His Eminence Samuel Alphonsus Stritch, D.D.
1930 - 1940
Samuel Alphonsus Stritch was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 17, 1887. Considered a child prodigy, Stritch entered college at age 16 and attended the North American College in Rome to complete his studies. He was ordained on May 21, 1910, in Rome. Before entering the episcopate, he served in Memphis and Nashville. He was made bishop of Toledo, Ohio, on November 30, 1921, at the age of 34.
Stritch was transferred to Milwaukee and installed as archbishop on August 26, 1930. Stritch was known for his youth, kindness and idealism though most of his years were spent coping with the Great Depression.
In 1935, a fire destroyed the interior of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Stritch was sensitive to the devastating effects of the Depression on the people of Milwaukee, however, and postponed all restoration of the burned out cathedral. He also chose not to renovate Saint Francis Seminary for the same reason, though it was showing need for major repair.
Stritch called for the first National Catholic Social Action Conference, held in Milwaukee in 1938. He played a particularly important role in mobilizing support behind the Catholic Action movement sanctioned by Pope Pius XI. The movement invited the laity to participate in the apostolate of the hierarchy, and Stritch not only included important clerics in his inner circle, but also frequently consulted prominent laity.
Stritch founded the Catholic Youth Organization to care for the spiritual, cultural, social and athletic needs of youth. The organization soon grew to include over 30,000 boys and girls.
Stritch was transferred to the Archdiocese of Chicago on December 27, 1939, and was made cardinal on February 18, 1946. Cardinal Stritch served the people of Chicago until his death on May 27, 1958, in Rome.